Sunday, November 11, 2007

Airplanes in the Desert

(click on any image to enlarge it)

I'm just sittin' out here watchin' airplanes...

(with apologies to Gary Allen)

This has been fun. Hot, and lots of work, but fun! The planes here at ARM (Aircraft Restoration and Marketing) are in various states of disrepair (having been decomissioned by the military) and are either restored for private use, sold for parts, or scrapped and melted. It's an interesting place -- especially if you like exploring the ghosts of history.

Many of the aircraft here currently are test planes, but there are some that have seen combat. There is at least one C-130 cargo plane with numerous holes, or "wounds" patched up all along its side, ranging from the size of a marble to the size of a basketball. And, there are a couple of military versions of the DC-3, like the one pictured above, whose interiors, cockpits, and electronics are coated with dried mud and debris. My fantasies may be running away with me, but it's fun to imagine that this aircraft's last days might have been spent in the jungle swamps of Southeast Asia where it sat undiscovered for decades before it was finally returned to U.S. soil. That's the kind of feeling this whole place gives me... a fantasy world of dramatic air battles fought in the skies over a hostile world 10,000 feet below.

Now, don't go getting all crazy thinking tha
t I enjoy war. I don't. I would never want to go through the hell that soldiers in wartime go through. And, regardless of the political reasons behind it, I respect them for having the courage to be there, fighting for people like me. But like most young boys (remember, I'm a kid at heart), I also enjoy the drama and hardship that forges heroes out of otherwise normal human beings. And, it's this "hero scenario" that I imagine as I enter the cockpit and climb into the pilot's seat, or stand in the jump door ready to parachute out behind enemy lines. When you walk amongst these icons of freedom, the imagination runs wild. These planes are the real deal, not just some product of the Hollywood dream factory. Real men and women likely fought and died in these aircraft. And it's awe-inspiring to walk among the ghosts of those heroes.

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